The National Museum of the American Indian will honor Native American servicemen and women in a very visible way:

a prominent memorial on the National Mall,

a place that draws nearly 24 million visitors annually to Washington, DC.

The National Native American Veterans Memorial represents:

a place for reflection

where generations of Americans can honor the proud and courageous legacy of Native Americans in the military, and look forward to the future;

a permanent memorial at the Smithsonian

planned for the grounds of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, between the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol;

a Native American effort

driven by the National Museum of the American Indian and Native nations;

and a recognition by all Americans,

a symbol of the country’s respect for Native Americans’ sacrifice and patriotism.
Support from Native American communities and organizations, including our collaboration with the National Congress of American Indians and tribal leaders, is crucial to our success. The memorial is further strengthened with the aid of major corporations and defense contractors, American veterans and their families, and private citizens.


 

NMAI Aerial Illustration
The National Museum of the American Indian is adjacent to the United States Capitol on the National Mall. Illustration by Lou Spirito
Chilocco alumnus Ernest Childers receives the Congressional Medal of Honor
Chilocco alumnus Ernest Childers (Muscogee [Creek]) receives the Congressional Medal of Honor from Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers (left). 5th Army headquarters, April 8, 1944. Lieutenant Childers received the honor because, working under heavy enemy fire, he wiped out two German machine gun nests near Oliveto, Italy, killing enemy snipers and capturing an artillery observer. Bettmann / Getty Images

Spreading the Word across America

The effort to honor Native Americans’ past and present service to our country will extend far beyond the physical memorial. The museum will also share stories of Native American servicemen and women through three aligned projects:

A Traveling Exhibition

A banner exhibition, Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces, will tell personal stories of Native American veterans and outline plans for the memorial. This exhibition will travel across the country for several years.

A Vital Oral History Project

The museum is collaborating with the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress to collect, preserve, and make accessible the oral histories of Native American veterans. The oral history project will record their stories in their own voices so that the public, universities, museums, and others can learn from them for generations to come.

An Interactive Website

Those who cannot travel to the memorial can still learn about Native veterans through a website exploring the legacy of the tens of thousands of American Indian men and women who have served the United States throughout its history.

This is a tremendously important effort to recognize Native Americans’ service to this nation. We have so much to celebrate. Like so many others, I was compelled to serve to honor the warrior tradition that is inherent to most Native American societies—the pillars of strength, honor, pride, devotion, and wisdom.

The Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Northern Cheyenne)

Campbell, a Korean War veteran, is one of the few American Indians to ever serve in the U.S. Congress.

The Road Ahead

The museum is working with Native American veterans, tribal leaders, historians, and cultural experts to make the National Native American Veterans Memorial a reality. In 2015, the museum established an advisory committee of Native American veterans to lead the effort, co-chaired by the Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Northern Cheyenne) and Chickasaw Nation Lieutenant Governor Jefferson Keel.

They are joined by Dr. Herman J. Viola as senior advisor to the National Native American Veterans Memorial project, a curator emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and author of Warriors in Uniform.

United States senators Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Daniel K. Inouye stand with members of the Vietnam Era Veterans Inter-Tribal Association
United States senators Ben Nighthorse Campbell, at left in regalia, and Daniel K. Inouye stand with members of the Vietnam Era Veterans Inter-Tribal Association during the groundbreaking ceremonies for the NMAI. Washington, DC, September 28, 1999. Campbell (Northern Cheyenne, b. 1933), a Korean War veteran, is one of the few American Indians to ever serve in Congress. For his actions during World War II, Inouye (1924–2012) received more than 15 medals and citations, most notably the Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. MARIO TAMA / AFP / Getty Images

Timeline

2016

– An eighteen-month consultation process gathers input from Native American communities across the country on the plans for the memorial. The advisory committee will provide a prospectus of their findings to the design competition jury.

2017

– The educational exhibition, Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces, travels around the country through the 2020 dedication of the memorial.

– The museum selects a blue-ribbon jury of Native and non-Native artists, designers, scholars, veterans, and others to conduct a design competition for the memorial.

– In the fall, the jury launches an open, international design competition for the memorial.

2018

– The jury recommends competition finalists to the museum.

– Final memorial design selected.

2019

– Once a design is selected and a final budget for the memorial determined, a team of advisors and representatives of the project will travel around the country to share the design and plans to build the memorial.

– Construction begins on the National Mall.

Support the Memorial

The museum is seeking donors to help us make this project a reality. An early commitment will demonstrate leadership to Native American veterans, their families, Indian Country, legislators and regulators, and other potential supporters. While all levels of commitment are welcome and needed, contributions of $100,000 or more will be recognized on the donor plaque at the memorial site.

The estimated budget for the memorial, its long term maintenance, and associated educational programs is $15 million.


 

Memorial Budget Breakdown

Co-Chairs

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell

Northern Cheyenne
Colorado
Air Force, Korea

Lt. Governor Jefferson Keel

Chickasaw Nation
Oklahoma
Army, Vietnam

Advisory Committee

Tribal Council President Mark Azure

Ft. Belknap, Assiniboine
Montana
Army

Mitchelene BigMan

Crow/Hidatsa/Gros Ventre/Northern Cheyenne
Colorado
Army, IraqPresident and Founder of Native American Women Warriors

Chuck Boers

Lipan Apache
California
Army, Iraq

Stephen D. Bowers

Seminole Tribe of Florida
Florida
Army, Vietnam

Chairman Kevin P. Brown

Mohegan Tribe
Connecticut
Army, Iraq

James Chastain Sr.

Lumbee
Georgia
Army, Vietnam

Debora Coxe

Chippewa
Michigan
Gold Star Mother

Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe

Cherokee Nation
Oklahoma
Navy, Vietnam

Gerald L. Danforth Sr.

Oneida
Wisconsin
Navy, Vietnam and Iraq

Wayne Don

Calista Corporation
Alaska
Army, Alaska Army National Guard

John Emhoolah

Kiowa
Colorado
Army, Korea, Black Leggings Society

Joe Garcia

Ohkay Owingeh
New Mexico
Air Force, Vietnam

Mashall Gover

Pawnee
Oklahoma
Marine Corps, Vietnam

Gary Hayes

Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
Colorado
Navy

Manaja Hill

Standing Rock Sioux
South Dakota
Army, Tribal Veterans Service Officer

Sharon House

Oneida
Wisconsin
Military Family

Chairman Earl Howe III

Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Army

Lee Gordon McLester III

Oneida
Wisconsin
Marine Corps Reserves

Chairman Arlan D. Melendez

Reno Sparks Indian Colony
Nevada
Marine Corps, Vietnam

Debra Kay Mooney

Choctaw
Oklahoma
Army, Iraq

Nancy Tsoodle Moser

Kiowa
Oklahoma
Military Family, Coast Guard